The Los Angeles Lakers are 10-11 to start a season that kicked off with the acquisition of Russell Westbrook, forming their own big three in Tinseltown to match the three-headed monster out in Brooklyn.
Dissapointing start to the season
To say the Lakers' level of play is underwhelming would be an understatement. The team is one of the worst in defensive ratings and struggles to find a consistent rhythm on the offensive end, especially without LeBron James. Granted that James has missed more than half their games, disappointing losses are to be expected, but the regular season was never meant to be about James. The first 82 games of the season were meant to be about finding chemistry amongst all the new faces on the team. More importantly, it was about unlocking the dominance of Anthony Davis without having to over-exert LeBron James.
Davis' issue has always been his health, which he seems to have addressed, playing in all but one of the Lakers' games this season. AD's availability is a welcome sign for the purple and gold, as he adds a dynamic to their defense that not many teams can bring to the table. However, the Lakers need more than just stellar defense from the superstar; they need him to dominate the game on both ends of the floor.
"Anthony Davis this season: 16.7% on threes — worst in NBA history by any player with 2+ attempts per game and 20+ games played. 38.3% on midrange — worst in the NBA by any player with 100+ attempts. 33.1% on jump shots — worst in the NBA by any player with 150+ attempts."
AD needs to step up immediately
In basketball terms, AD is what we call a "unicorn" a seven-footer with guard skills that can kill you from inside the paint and on the perimeter. Davis has a smooth-looking jump shot with a fluid release, which leads us to believe that he is a good shooter from the outside, but Davis is only a 31.4% shooter from beyond the arc for his career and a sorry 29% in his three seasons with the Lakers so far. He is a career 51% FG shooter, but that percentage is only the way it is because AD is unstoppable at the rim against smaller players at the 4-spot.
NBA analysts are quick to blame Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel when it comes to figuring out the reason for the Lakers' woes, but it's time to see what is truly unfolding here. Anthony Davis is shooting the worst three-point percentage in NBA history among players who shoot it enough to be tracked; that's not something to expect from a top-five talent in this league. AD's stats from the perimeter are not encouraging either, and if Davis wants to play the style he prefers, he needs to hit jumpers much more consistently.
Is AD truly healthy, or is he playing through some nagging injuries that affect his consistency on jumpers? Is he really the "unicorn" that the basketball world believes he is or has his Achilles' heel been exposed? If the Lakers want to compete for a championship, Davis needs to play at the level he was in the Orlando Bubble, a level we all expect him to play at every year. So it's time to look to Anthony Davis to bring the Lakers out of this slump, and if he does not, we must hold him accountable for his lack of ability to deliver when it matters most.